Unicity: The Transition
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This paper reviews the first two years of the Unicity system, examining the implementation of the system and its preliminary impact and effectiveness in Greater Winnipeg. More broadly, it looks at the effectiveness of institutional reform as a tool for change, and a catalyst for increased citizen participation in local government. A significant portion of this report is a performance overview of various components of local government under the new Unicity structure: council, administration, community committees, and resident advisory groups. It looks at how the new government handled emergent planning issues in Winnipeg, particularly major downtown developments, and how the new council voted on policy issues. It compares planning and policy-making of the Unicity years to those of the Metro government era (1960-71). Finally, it provides analysis and recommendations. The paper argues that Unicity introduced a number of improvements and innovations, but the change did not adequately address the basic problems of urban governance in Winnipeg, particularly a lack of citizen engagement, and a lack of cogent, long-term approach to neighbourhood and social planning. The report found that reorganizing the regional system of governance was a worthwhile endeavor, but that this does not necessarily lead to better regional governing practices. Moreover, the impact of Unicity is secondary to the impacts federal and provincial government on the Greater Winnipeg region. It concludes by saying that further political and administrative reforms are necessary to have citizens be more engaged, and for local government to be more responsive to the community.